The only way I learn

I am reading a brilliant book at the moment that was suggested to me by a friend  thus:

jackieschneider jackie schneider

@malcolmbellamy – completely agree! Have you read Bounce? I am going to keep this in school to read to kids everyday til they get it!
The book “Bounce” is by Matthew Sayed. Here is a video in which he explains the ideas in the book:
Now you may ask what the making of champions has to do with my learning. Well I have realised that all learning is about practice and learning from feedback which for much of the time is about failure.
I have learnt to become proficient at computers (so much so that my wife now calls me a geek!). I am not an expert in the sense of many young people who can wipe the floor with me in programming a computer, hacking another computer or database or fixing something that goes wrong.
I get by though in accessing the web, in storing websites that interest me, in communicating with others through social networks like Twitter,Facebook and my present favourite Google Plus. I have a lot of knowledge about developments in technology that may baffle people a lot younger (and less knowledgeable) than me. I have written about augmented reality and am aware of some new ideas coming from Silicon Valley because I keep in touch with people who know these sort of things.
I haven’t been taught any of these things. I have explored Internet Explorer, then Firefox and latterly Google Chrome. I got to know how to work these browsers by trying things, often they didn’t work and so I had to try again. I persevered (which is a scaled down version of Sayed’s “practice”) I found out how to save, how to send, how to look up history.
I did the same with learning about the wide wide world of Google Apps. I found Documents a bit difficult to fathom at first but eventually learnt just how useful they were. Recently, I did a presentation to some newly qualified teachers and showed them a presentation using a word-processed document of useful links and also a spreadsheet all made from Google programs. I have used Prezi to show at presentations and have experienced the “wow” factor when I have zoomed into the next picture, quote or shown a video.
I have loved the freedom to explore this exciting world and have gone wrong so many many times. Yet I have learnt so much. Will I ever become a world authority in computers? No. Will I set the world on fire with my technological wizardry? I don’t think so.
We are not talking champions here (but then again Matthew Sayed wasn’t talking just about champions in his book). We are talking about how we learn… through trial and error, through practice and through dedication. There is so much that teachers can learn from this book… that we need to let children go wrong so that they can learn. That we need to let children have the chance to explore their passions and practice as often as possible so as to become proficient and who knows exceptional.
I am often asked by friends who have seen my blog how I made it look as good and how I got the pictures and videos in it and the links to other posts…. well I didn’t have to work so hard for that… I just used the excellent platform provided by WordPress. I have learnt to use the buttons effectively and can spellcheck my posts and decide what pictures to use (from the many recommended) and which links to use. I can decide which tags to use and have used various apps to link my posts to social networking sites so as to gain maximum publicity.
If I had been told a year or so back that I would have reached the levels of proficiency that I have reached now in writing and presenting a blog, I would have thought it unlikely to say the least. But I have managed to reach a reasonable level through day to day attention to learning and through making a lot of errors along the way. So please excuse the odd typo that misses the net of the spellchecker!
I have called this post “The only way I learn” and in fact it is the only way that any of us learn, not by reading a book, or by following the words of a wise man (or woman) but by practice and by dedication and by having the time and freedom to get the chance to do things and often get it wrong and try to understand what I have to do to get it right the next time.

The power of the internet: The BBC “Give an Hour” campaign

As a proponent of the power of the internet for extending our learning and adding to our life, I was so pleased to see a post in Google Plus that I have shared, as follows:

malcolm bellamy  –  2:59 PM  –  Public
This is wonderful. I think it is so important to use our expertise to help people to access the power of the internet. I intend to do some internet coaching for “older” people after I retire next year.
James Galbraith's profile photoJames Galbraith originally shared this post:
The power of the internet, reaching out and connecting people of all ages…

George, 104, explains the benefits of using the internet to his partner Stella, 87, as part of the BBC’s “Give an Hour” campaign.
I would strongly suggest that you follow the link and see the video. My favourite moment was when Stella saw her old house on Google Maps. The magic (and power) of the internet for an 87 year old!

The need for genius

Cover of "The Genius in All of Us: Why Ev...
Cover via Amazon

I discovered an article from the B.B.C. called “Is There a Genius In All Of Us?”  The article was about a book by David Shenk called “The Genius In All Of Us“.

The book looks at a lot of recent studies that show intelligence to be a combination of genetics as well as environment and that the interaction of these two influences is effected by the amount of hard work that is put into developing skills that we may be born with or seek to develop but which will lay dormant if they are not worked upon.

In other words the old saying “genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration” is not too far from the mark.

The key thing is in discovering what it is that we want to develop. As the article says we are not all born to become Cristian Ronaldo and do amazing things with a football in front of thousands of fans. But then again Cristiano may have had an innate talent that was developed by his environment that celebrated and promoted soccer as against another sport that he may have had ability to develop in if he had worked as hard as he did to develop his skills in football.

I am, as readers of this blog will know, a great admirer of the work and writings of Sir Ken Robinson and in particular of his book “The Element” where he explains how we each need to find what our passion is and what thing we want to develop in our life.

If we find our passion then the hard work to develop our skills in it does not seem like a chore, but hard work there must be if we are to truly develop our talents to the full.

Shenk is right, we all have some sort of genius within us if we are able to find the thing that is our “element” and then work hard to develop it to the best of our ability. The tragedy is that, throughout history the majority of us have never found what our passion is or had the opportunity to develop it to the full.

The world is a poorer place because of all of that waste but more importantly, can we afford to not have the talents that we have within us developed to the full if we are to survive as a species in these traumatic times with the many challenges that we face ahead?

The most iconic photos of all time

I read a really interesting post yesterday called “Six Applications of Photography In Education” . I think that there is so much to be said about the use of photos in education.

One of the more interesting links in the post was to the history of photography. I found a really interesting post called  “13 Photographs That Changed the World.

This article had thirteen iconic photographs in it including the 1936 Dorothea Lange classic “Migrant Mother“.

The thing was this was a personal list by the author and many would agree with the Lange photo being there but might think that there were some more iconic photos that didn’t make the list. This led to a great comment section after the original post where there were some excellent suggestions including these two classics:


It made me wonder what top ten all-time great photographs you would choose.. maybe, if you’re a teacher it’s a good thing to get your students researching and discussing. Let me know your lists.

How Google + has extended my PLN

I loved the format of G+ from the minute I experienced it. It has recently been opened to the wider world of Googlers and I am finding that I am getting followed in circles by more and more interesting people. I have taken the plunge myself and have added a number of new people to my existing circles.

What really sells this format to me are the extended posts. I am a fervent Tweeter but am often frustrated by having the character ticker count down towards the 140 mark. I know that the 140 limit is good for careful wording but would really like to be able to read more. With G+ I get this and so much more.

The links are there and so are the videos and photos but the range is so good. I have specialised in education and technology and find that I am getting cutting edge information in these areas by people who really know what they are talking about.

It is in the developments of technology that I have really benefited from G+. The search facility is wonderful (as you might expect from Google) and the suggestions of new people to add to your circles has allowed me to find people who are deeply involved with the development of new ideas or writing about the innovators. I have picked up more people to follow by looking at the linked names in posts.

Unlike Facebook I do not have to seek permission to follow.These people can choose not to follow me back but I can see their public posts. The separation of public as against limited or private postings has been a particular innovation of G+. I have tried to make most of my new blog post announcements public so that it can get to  a wider audience (this post will soon be advertised in a posting on G+).

I used to look at Facebook and then Twitter first when I wanted to see what was happening “out there”. I am increasingly starting with G+ which has produced some brilliant follow up things for me in the past few weeks. Long may it continue!

Understanding Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs while presenting the iPad in San Fr...
Image via Wikipedia

I did a Google search on “Steve Jobs and Education” which followed from a link to a talk and article by, of all people, Rupert Murdoch about schools, entitled, “The Steve Jobs Model for Education Reform“.

The subtitle was….  If we can engage a child’s imagination, there’s no limit to what he or she can learn.

This was the sort of thing that I have always been  going on about (among others of course), so I decided that I would do the search on Google mentioned above.

This led me to a post called “Steve Jobs on Education” . As is the way with these internet trails I followed a link to this:

This was a 1995 Smithsonian Institution interview with Steve Jobs after he had been fired from Apple and was working on NeXT and also Pixar animations.

This was the transcript of the whole interview by Daniel Morrow and makes for fascinating reading. It contains a lot of details from Steve about his life, his background and in particular his childhood and his education. There are some powerful references to the role that his father played in the development of his interest in electronics and the fortune that he had in having moved to Silicon Valley at the age of five and growing up in an environment that celebrated innovation and experimentation.

The focus of the interview was very much one of education and Steve makes a number of interesting points about why the education system did not then (and does not now) allow children to develop their real talents and abilities.

I found a number of his ideas about the developments that technology can bring and also their limitations to be very interesting.

I think this interview is a real neglected gem if you are looking into the motivations and personality of the man that was Steve Jobs and has some important ideas that are still needing to be looked at in 2011 some 16 years since the interview was recorded.

The power of a social media campaign: Tony Kennick’s TedX Sheffield Talk

Here is the Google Plus post that I did last night (13th October). It follows a link that I received from a Tweet (where else?)
I am, as readers of this blog know, a great fan of Ted Talks and TedX Talks. The video is a talk from TedX Sheffield, newly released on YouTube. It is an excellent talk by Tony Kennick called “Desktop Revolution” about the way that social media and Twitter in particular played such a huge part in naming and shaming the hacking of murdered Milly Dowler‘s mobile phone by employees of the paper “The News of The World“.
What is so important about this and the way that social media played such a significant role in the uprisings across the Middle East and elsewhere, is that politicians and media moguls do not have an ability any more to sweep unpleasant things under a secrecy carpet which will never see the light of day again.
The political world is changing and students of political science need to be aware of this… they are maybe better off studying Twitter streams than Hobbes and Marx!
Here is the G+ post:
malcolm bellamy  –  Yesterday 8:52 PM  –  Public
TEDxSheffield – Tony Kennick – Desktop Revolution

This is an important talk that needs to be seen more widely. Tony Kennick explains the way that the Twitter campaign against the hacking of Milly Dowler’s mobile phone by The New Of The World actually happened.

We now live in a world where this kind of thing cannot go by swept under a carpet of secrecy. It led in the end to the public humiliation of Rupert Murdoch as well as the closure of the paper.

Politicians need to be aware that there is a new power around called the public voice and it has been seen right across the world in mobilising opinion and putting vested interests under pressure.

For those who think that social media is just about who is having a coffee with whom and where…take note…. and consider the consequences of your actions.